Minsk has been rapidly developing over the last few years. Housing, roads and enterprises, contemporary business centres, spacious hypermarkets and comfortable hotels are being built. In the post-war years, Minsk became an industrial city and the Soviet Union’s ‘assembly factory’
Now, in the early 21st century, it has transformed into one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. Manufacture is gradually pushing services outside the city and international business is arriving. Soon, Belarus’ capital will be notable for its comfort, rationality and aesthetic appearance. Minsk’s general development plan (running until 2030) has recently been approved by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Capital’s satellites. Buildings and roads don’t appear in Minsk spontaneously. The capital is developing in compliance with its city development plan, meeting the requirements of our time. The first such plan was elaborated in 1800; the most recent was approved in 2003. Specialists have relied on annual population growth forecasts to help them plan ahead, but this figure is already double that expected, leading to amendments.
In September, a revised document was presented to the public. Minskers and city guests can now imagine how the capital will appear in the near future, ready to make their own proposals. In mid-November, Minsk’s corrected general plan — written on 2,500 pages in 8 volumes — was submitted to the President, who approved the architects’ plans. How will the country’s major city look in coming years?
“We’re deeply concerned that Minsk’s population shouldn’t exceed 2m people,” asserts the capital’s Chief Architect, Victor Nikitin. “If over 25-30 percent of the country’s population shifts towards the capital, transport infrastructure will need to be expanded.”
No more than 1.2m square metres will be built in Minsk annually; rather, major emphasis is being placed on the development of satellite towns, located 25-30km from the capital. These will possess their own social and production infrastructure and will be connected with Minsk via motorways, allowing the 2m strong city to be unloaded, released from the ‘diseases’ of a contemporary megapolis: traffic jams, lack of parking and exhaust pollution.
According to the Acting Chairman of Minsk City Executive Committee, Nikolai Ladutko, nine towns will become satellites of the capital: Dzerzhinsk, Zhodino, Fanipol, Smolevichi, Stolbtsy, Uzda, Rudensk, Zaslavl and Logoisk. Smolevichi (with around 15,000 residents) and Zaslavl (with approximately the same number) already have town development and economic assessments. In 2011, the creation of infrastructure outside of Minsk’s ring road will begin.
Road card. The amended general plan envisages the construction of a second transport ring — to appear around Minsk, connecting the Moscow-Berlin and Vilnius-Kiev highways. It will enable better transit cargo flow, with logistics centres operating outside the capital’s borders. The plan envisages coverage of future levels of cargo, making it a 21st century motorway — a high-speed illuminated road, meeting international standards. Belarus is a transit country and the creation of such roads could significantly increase budget revenue.
Transport traffic inside the city is a burning problem and the experience of the world’s megapolises shows that it’s wisest to solve the problem in good time. Alongside constructing traffic interchanges, some restrictions may be introduced on vehicles entering the capital. Of course, this can only be done if parking areas are provided, allowing visitors to ‘park and ride’, ensuring the smooth movement of urban transport.
The city authorities plan to focus on transport connections in Minsk in the coming years. For example, the creation of a city electric train, connecting Minsk Railway Station, Zhdanovichi and Smolevichi, will bring comfortable travel. Meanwhile, an entertainment park may be set up near Logoisk, with a high-speed tram running from Zeleny Lug metro station.
Minsk — a city of sport and tourism. 2014 is the nearest landmark for Minsk city planners. The capital needs to be ready to welcome up to 50,000 guests for the World Hockey Championship. Consequently, Minsk needs new hotels, trade and catering outlets, parking and, of course, sports facilities. Preparations for the championship will cost around
Br7 trillion (from the republican budget, the city’s funds and investments).
Sporting amateurs will be pleased. New facilities are to be added to familiar buildings being reconstructed. Dynamo Stadium won’t be the country’s main football arena any more; it will rather become a track-and-field ground. Its rows of shopping stalls will gradually be replaced by restaurants and cafes and two new hotels will open nearby, alongside an underground parking area. Football matches will be held at a contemporary stadium, seating 45,000, built on the site of today’s Traktor Stadium. With covered stands meeting international standards,
it will cost 100-120m euros.
Minsk’s Chizhovka district is also being revamped, acquiring a cultural and entertainment centre, sports facilities, restaurants, hotels and a parking area. Construction is scheduled for the next few years.
A multi-functional complex with a hotel promises to become the capital’s ‘pearl’. It will be built near Minsk’s Circus, by a famous group of companies — Kempinski. The investor promises that a luxury hotel for 200 will be built, with restaurants and offices, fitting harmoniously into the historical setting of Nezavisimosti Avenue. Minsk’s architectural style will be preserved. By late 2013, the project will be complete.
Another unusual project — worth 1.5bn euros — is the construction of Primorsky sports-tourist and housing complex on the banks of Zaslavskoe reservoir (aka ‘Minsk Sea’). A Czech company is ready to finance the venture, which will be unrivalled in Belarus and its neighbouring states. A hotel complex, guests villas, wooden camp sites, 30-storey blocks of flats, an ice rink, a swimming pool, a universal sports arena, a ski roller track, a yacht club with mooring for 100 vessels, Disneyland-style entertainment facilities for children and bowling are to appear by 2015, just 10km from Minsk.
Sports facilities will be commissioned a year earlier and, according to the First Vice President of the National Olympic Committee, Gennady Alexeenko, the project has already received preliminary approval. It will soon be submitted to the President. The Ministry for Sports and Tourism believes that its implementation will promote tourism into Belarus and will considerably expand opportunities for Minskers’ leisure. Minsk Chief Architect Victor Nikitin even thinks that, in future, Zaslavskoe reservoir could become an inter-city water reservoir. Such a powerful water system will benefit the megapolis, while being environmentally friendly.
Making Minsk more comfortable is a top priority for the capital’s city builders for the next five years. However, the amended plan may receive further changes by 2030. Even the most innovative projects have to remain adaptable.
By Lilia Khlystun
Creating a comfortable place to live
[b]Minsk has been rapidly developing over the last few years. Housing, roads and enterprises, contemporary business centres, spacious hypermarkets and comfortable hotels are being built. In the post-war years, Minsk became an industrial city and the Soviet Union’s ‘assembly factory’ [/b]Now, in the early 21st century, it has transformed into one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. Manufacture is gradually pushing services outside the city and international business is arriving. Soon, Belarus’ capital will be notable for its comfort, rationality and aesthetic appearance. Minsk’s general development plan (running until 2030) has recently been approved by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.